Review: UVI World Suite

Editor's Choice Award-Winning Instrument Collection
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Designed to run inside UVI Workstation or Falcon, World Suite ($299; uvi.net) is a jam-packed collection of instruments sourced from every major continent and ethnic tradition. Given its sheer volume, variety, and price, World Suite offers great value as well as musical possibilities.

Content King. Weighing in at more than 28 GB, World Suite is chock-full of multisampled instruments, loops, and phrases organized into 12 groups according to region or style. You’ll find an impressive representation from each of the following categories: Africa, Asia, Australia, Celtic, Eastern Europe, India, Indonesia, Middle East, Occidental, South America, Spanish Gypsy, and West Indies..

World Suite’s interface changes based on the selected preset to show instrument-specific controls. For example, with this Armenian duduk you can enable and adjust legato and portamento under the Performance section. Choose a keyboard sound, and the Performance section changes to show Timbre controls

World Suite’s interface changes based on the selected preset to show instrument-specific controls. For example, with this Armenian duduk you can enable and adjust legato and portamento under the Performance section. Choose a keyboard sound, and the Performance section changes to show Timbre controls

Most of the focus is on traditional sounds from each musical culture. (Think “travel documentary” rather than “epic and cinematic.”) For example, the Celtic category includes bagpipes and bodhran hits, the Middle East category offers oud, bazouki, duduk—you get the idea.

However, there are a few surprises that venture into modern territory, such as highlife and soukous, two hybrid styles that characterize modern African pop dating back to the ’60s. I haven’t heard anything like this from other similarly themed libraries; kudos to UVI for exceeding expectations.

A fair amount of material has been repurposed from UVI’s discontinued World Traditions, several Precisionsound titles, and MOTU’s Ethno Instrument 2. I don’t fault UVI for recycling raw sample data from other products, but it’s something to be aware of if you already own these older instruments. And in fact, much of what I wrote in my Ethno Instrument 2 review still holds true for World Suite: “Whether you’re in the mood for saucy Spanish flamenco flavors, tranquil Asian soundscapes, or driving African drums,” World Suite delivers the goods.

That said, it also improves on its predecessors in several key ways. For starters, it’s $100 less than Ethno Instrument 2, plus it contains more source instruments and loops. You can’t argue with more for less!

Nearly every sound category has been expanded with new multisampled instruments. To my ears, these have been sampled in greater detail, with the resulting patches providing a high degree of playability and expressiveness. For instance, two types of taiko drums are now onboard, both of which offer many lower-velocity samples and a wider range of dynamics. Likewise for the udu, which is presented with a variety of articulations mapped across 4 ½ octaves on the keyboard, making it easy to improvise percussion parts using two hands.

In total, World Suite comprises 375 source instruments, 320 instrument presets and over 8,000 loops and phrases. With such a massive soundset, it’s impossible to cover everything, of course. Instead, I’ll highlight a couple of my favorites and refer you to the 286-page PDF manual for further info. Also check out the accompanying audio examples online.

One of my favorites in the keyboard category is the Naeshult Table Piano. This is a delicate-sounding miniature piano sampled with multiple variations, which are available via key-switches. A mix between cymbalum and Pianet, its sound reminds me of the stylized piano sounds of Imogen Heap; perfect for interlocking ostinato parts in the upper registers.

Also from the Nordic region, the Psalmodikon features six key-switched articulations including “bowed 2,” which is absolutely horrible sounding, in a good way; just the right texture to add tension and terror to your next cue. I also like the bite and intensity of “Staccato 2,” which sounds almost like an overblown woodwind instrument. Here’s a tip: Layer this with drums to make accented hits more dramatic.

Global Organization. World Suite encompasses a staggering variety of sounds. But despite its size, I found the library very intuitive to work with, thanks to a number of clever design touches throughout. For example, its patch browser is organized into five different top-level directories that let you access the sounds in several ways. You can search based on the aforementioned Region categories, or you can drill down into the loops by starting with the Loops and Phrases directory. Alternatively, if you have a certain sound in mind, but you’re not sure if it’s Asian or Middle Eastern, go to the Types directory, which further lets you search by instrument type, such as Woodwind, Bell/Metal/Gong, Percussion, and so on.

Equally brilliant, the main Instrument interface shows only the most relevant and musically useful parameters, thereby keeping the look clean and inviting. As an example, reverb controls are kept to a minimum: You get impulse response type, size, and wet/dry mix.

World Suite also handles construction kits in a smart way with its Traveler presets. These are 6-part multis that combine loops and phrases of related material (grooves, melodic phrases, and harmonic accompaniment), making it easy to create authentic musical passages from constituent parts. The Traveler format makes quick work out of locating and auditioning complementary musical elements. It’s a huge time-saver for busy media composers.

Globetrotter. World Suite is an ambitious and diverse library that would make an excellent all-rounder for anyone looking to expand their palette beyond the stock sounds in their DAW. Yes, a lot of the raw material has appeared previously. Even so, UVI has improved on any other format by taking advantage of the powerful feature set in their UVI Workstation engine. The result is a virtual instrument that sounds great, has a ton of functionality and faithfully represents more musical cultures than you’re likely to get from any other library.